For providers hesitant to board the ACO car of the coordinated-care train, there is room in the section reserved for bundled payments—which experts say could offer a less bumpy ride to the same destination.
Last week, HHS announced a bundled payment initiative through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation that would provide lump sum payments for hospitals, physicians and other practitioners in an effort to create efficiencies, lower costs and improve quality. The endeavor differs from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's official national pilot program on payment bundling, which HHS is expected to launch no later than January 2013. The HHS secretary has the authority to expand both the center's initiative and the ACA's formal program nationwide if they prove successful.
Matthew Amodeo, a partner in the healthcare group of Drinker Biddle & Reath, drew a parallel between this initiative and the center's Pioneer ACO model, which offered more flexibility than the proposed ACO rule outlined this spring. In the same way, the Innovation Center is providing more breathing room for healthcare providers who understand that a more-coordinated healthcare system is here to stay—and it behooves them to embrace that change.